XV Edition of the fair

From 2 to 6 Sept. 2017, "Etar" Museum hosted the XV International Fair of Traditional Crafts held under the patronage of Mr. Dimitar Glavchev, President of the National Assembly of the Republic of Bulgaria.
Mr. Glavchev was a special guest at the opening of the Fair. Photo Gallery on Facebook.
In 2017, the record for the number of foreign participants in the Fair exhibition was broken, as the forum attracted 26 craftsmen, with artisans from the Republic of South Africa and Iran taking part for the first time.
Two exhibitions were arranged for the anniversary of the Fair: "Mastership from far and wide" and "Winning with mastership". Iran revealed its mystic beauty to the visitors of "Etar" Museum with the guest display (2 – 6 Sept.) featuring works of traditional Iranian miniature and calligraphy, as well as items of the traditional Iranian handicrafts of Qalam-Zani (engravings on metal), Minakari (enameling) and Khatam Kari (decorating of wooden surfaces).
Exhibition "Traditional Crafts from Iran". Photo Gallery on Facebook.
A record of a kind was set in terms of the international participation in the Craftsman Competition – four contenders from Ukraine, Romania, Albania and Russia. There were four participants from Bulgaria. The icon painters vied in the specially arranged halls of the Sharlan-making workshop, each creating two icons —one mandatory copy of the original icon of Saint Spyridon provided to us by "Hristo Tzokev" Gallery in Gabrovo, and an original icon aligned with the traditions of the respective school which the participant represented. The winner in the competition was artist Stela Vasileva from Troyan. She received the "Silver bell" Grand Prix during the Evening of the Craftsman on 5 Sept. The Special Prize of the Municipality of Gabrovo went to Elena Digboyoushka from Plovdiv, and the Prize of "Etar" EOM was awarded to Gergana Simeonova from Dryanovo. Andrea Scorobet from Romania received a diploma for the youngest master.
Craftsmen's competition in Icon painting. Photo Gallery on Facebook.
The novelty in 2017 was the launch of a youth section of the Craftsman Competition. The museum attracted ALOS Centre for informal education and cultural activities to act as coordinator of the initiative and recruitment of participants. Thanks to this partnership, students from "Trevnenska shkola" National high school of applied art (Tryavna), "Dimitar Dobrovich" National art school (Sliven) and "Tsanko Lavrenov" National art school (Plovdiv) were invited to join the youth section. They painted wooden plates with iconographic motifs. The prize "Bronze bell" and a one-time grant went to Alina Pentcheva from "Trevnenska shkola" National high school of applied art. The high school won the right to mount an exhibition on the area of the museum in the period 15–30 Aug. 2018.
Safeguarding traditions and reviving craft techniques on the verge of extinction make the International Fair of Traditional Crafts distinct from other similar events in the country. In 2017, it highlighted traditional techniques for decoration and dyeing. In a dedicated space at the Bookshop, on 2 and 3 Sept. participants from different parts of Bulgaria (Popovo, Plovdiv, Shiroka Laka, Yambol, Gabrovo and Sliven) presented to the visitors of the Fair various techniques of decoration and dyeing: using natural plant dyes to dye braid, yarn and maize foliage; decoration of Rhodope slippers and traditional clothing with braid, cotton printing, decorative felt making etc.
Traditional techniques for decoration and dyeing. Photo Gallery on Facebook.
For the first time during the International Fair of Traditional Crafts, a zone was dedicated to the presentation of contemporary application of some of the traditional crafts. The exhibition was underway from 4 to 6 Sept., and the diversity of featured articles, as well as the quality selection of participants was instrumental in the great success of this new highlight of the Fair exhibition.
Exhibition bazaar "Art Zone". Photo Gallery on Facebook.
As part of the 2017 Fair, the XIII International research conference was held under the motto "Traditional crafts – past, present, future" with leading moderator prof. Simeon Nedkov, PhD, from "St. Kliment Ohridski" University of Sofia, who also moderated one of the sections. Moderator of the second section, "Icon painting", was assoc. prof. Evgeny Nikolov, PhD, from "St. Cyril and St. Methodius" University of Veliko Tarnovo. For the conference, 51 papers were submitted by 55 participants. Bulgarian participants included ethnographers and representatives of museums, universities, libraries, research institutes and societies. For the first time representatives of the Institute for Historical Studies at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Mathematics and Informatics at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, the Association for anthropology, ethnology and folklore studies "Ongal", Archaeological Museum Plovdiv, as well as postgraduate students from the Faculty of Theology at Sofia University, joined the conference.
Bazaar exhibition of Bulgarian traditional crafts. Photo Gallery on Facebook.
The XV International Fair of Traditional Crafts opened with a show of "Bulgare" National folklore ensemble. The music and dance program of the Fair featured "Avigeya" vocal group with the "Kanatitsa" project, "Dimitar Lyolev" quartet, "Zipka" folklore group from the Republic of Croatia, "Sivek" folklore group from Gabrovo and "Gabrovo" Orchestra. This edition of the Fair was marked by the idea of exploration and continuity of traditions in various aspects of present-day creativity and culture. That had motivated the museum's team to look for the development of folklore traditions in stage arts and to invite groups who incorporate folklore elements in their original compositions.
Musical and dance programme. Photo Gallery on Facebook.
The program of the XV International Fair of Traditional Crafts on 4–6 Sept. included presentations of home occupations from the traditional lifestyles of Bulgarians: beating butter in a Balkan dairy, smoking and drying of plums, making jam, as well as demonstrations and trainings in the crafts of blacksmithing and stone-cutting. The visitors of the event could watch grinding of corn in a karadzheika water mill.
The XV International Fair of Traditional Crafts received the following participants:
60 exhibitors from Bulgaria
23 exhibitors from abroad
3 representatives from the quota of foreigners living in Bulgaria
8 masters-participants in the Craftsman Competition
10 participants in the exhibition "Traditional techniques for decoration and dyeing"
1 artisan displaying works at Bazaar exhibition "Textile articles"
6 demonstration masters
6 students from high schools of art
11 freelance applied artists
Bazaar exhibition of foreign traditional crafts. Photo Gallery on Facebook.
Close to 75% of the respondents in a poll held among visitors during the days of the Fair said the event had lived up to their expectations. For other 14% of the poll's respondents, the ХV International Fair of Traditional Crafts had "exceeded their expectations". The second poll was carried out among exhibitors. From 50 polled, 48 said they were satisfied with the organization of the event and would take part in it in 2018. Taking the question, "Did you manage to create new partnerships?" close to 82% gave affirmative answers.
Bazaar exhibition "Textile Articles" by Mariana Dimitrova. Photo Gallery on Facebook.
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